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The Nation

Published Date: Jun 14, 2011

SPEAKERS TERM MIRANI DAM ‘A DISASTER’ FOR LOCALS

Speakers at a seminar on Monday called upon members of the media and the security personnel to adopt more professional and serious attitudes.

The seminar, “Mortal threat to journalists: the price of writing truth in Pakistan” was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Pervez Shaukat said there was a dire need to form a press commission to handle complaints about any unethical journalistic practice.

He said killing of Saleem Shahzad was a serious issue as he was the 74th victim in the media. “We demand that the government, chief of the army staff and the director-general of ISI should take this growing concern and intervene to stop
such kinds of threats against journalists,” he said.

Mr Shaukat highlighted the difficult working conditions and threats faced by journalists.

He said the agencies and the establishment were not the only source of worry for the journalist community in Pakistan rather there were also foreign intelligence agencies, Taliban, ethnic, militant bodies and drug lords that pressured and threatened mediapersons.

The most unfortunate issue is that cameras and other equipment are insured in the country but journalists are not, he added.

“So media owners should do something for journalists’ protection and take measures like introducing insurance and starting security training for them.”

He said it was a matter of concern that world journalists and human rights bodies had declared Pakistan as a dangerous
place for journalists and 35 journalists’ bodies at a meeting in Beirut recently decided to write to Pakistani authorities on security threats to journalists and would also support PFUJ in holding worldwide protest.

Umer Cheema, an investigative journalist, said speaking the truth had become the cause of physical and psychological harassment, and the sense of insecurity including life threats to journalists and their families was growing in country.

“Silence is not a solution and we have to do collective struggle no matter what would be the cost,” he said.

Chairing the seminar, Shafqat Munir, policy adviser at the SDPI, said both the journalist community and intelligence agencies needed to be more serious about their jobs and follow the rules, standard legal practices and procedures. “The intelligence agencies should enhance their tolerance level and should not unilaterally declare journalists as agents of enemies rather they should expose any such unethical journalistic practice through a legal course with substantive evidences,” he said.

He said journalists should also adopt professional standards by covering all shades and points of views in their stories. He said there was no excuse for torture or killing a citizen for speaking the truth.

 Web Link:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/07/call-to-set-up-press-commission.html